Reading Spotlight Award

The Reading Spotlight Award is a leather bookmark given to individuals
who have made contributions to Read Aloud Nebraska's mission of:

- Promoting healthy, successful children and families through reading aloud
- Fostering school and community efforts that develop lifelong readers

The Reading Spotlight Award is especially for those who promote reading aloud outside of their normal job duties.

Reading Spotlight Award bookmark

Award Recipients

Kimberly Ellenwood
Kimberly designs and implements a variety of children's reading programs for the Genoa Public Library. She enthusiastically reads stories to the children, creates and performs flannel board stories, and carries out fun and educational activities or crafts to coordinate with the books read. In addition to the library work, Kimberly works as a Para educator at the Twin River Elementary School. The children relate well with her as she strives to teach them and encourages strong reading habits. She is currently enrolled in college to continue her own education towards an elementary education career. As living proof of her skills, her daughter became a fluent reader at the young age of three! Kimberly is a devoted educator who loves what she does!
Marjie White
Mrs White promotes reading aloud with her 3rd & 4th grade students during the school day, and also in their homes through Scholastic book orders, Book It! (Pizza Hut) coupons, and Reading Classics book club (NE Reads.org). Every year she even organizes an entire Day of Reading for her students, which sets aside all other school subjects in favor of books, books, and more books!
Andy Dillehay
Andy has worked to tie in performances at the Lincoln Community Playhouse with literature by arranging to have LCP performers or staff attend storytimes at Lincoln City Libraries. The read aloud the picture book that is the basis for their youth oriented play/musical. During a fundraising for LCP at Barnes & Noble, he scheduled community readers to read aloud from Laura Ingalls Wilder books since that was their current play.
Jennie Schneider
Jennie taught 3rd grade for 17 years and reading was always a huge part of our day. She read aloud for 30 minutes every day while we had milk break, and she used her voice to give life to the characters and hook us into the story. Now she is a school librarian and has started a cooperative program between the high school athletes and the elementary students called, "Celebrity Reader." Each quarter a different 'celebrity' athlete reads to a class in the elementary. The kids love it and it's just one example of the commitment Jennie has to reading!
Lisa Guenther
Lisa is a Reading Teacher in the Norfolk Public Schools, but goes far beyond the call of duty. Lisa puts countless hours into the "1 Book, 4 Schools" program, something that she does in the fall and spring at Grant, Jefferson, Washington and Westside Elementary Schools. Lisa also helps coordinate the Prime Time Family Reading Time program in the same four schools. Both of these programs help make Norfolk unique among communities in Nebraska!
Theresa Ritta-Olson
Theresa comes up with new ways every day for students to interact with partners and in groups, in their reading assignments. Students who use English as a second language are able to read out loud to native speakers, with seemingly little effort, because of Theresa's sincere desire to make readers of all students. She reads out loud to all students who need tutoring in small groups, and always finds reading material that captivates her audience.
Ginny Ward
Ginny is a library paraprofessional at Northfield Elementary School in Gering. Her students love her reading of stories and the follow-up activities she uses to support learning from each of the books she reads. She uses reading time to effectively teach library skills, language development, and literature appreciation. Story time at Northfield is a fun learning experience.
Kirk Gottschalk
This Seward Middle School principal not only made it a point to attend the Michael Sullivan workshop about "Connecting Boys to Books" but was also engaged in the lecture and followed up on the suggestion to carry a paperback book in his back pocket. Mr. Gottschalk sets a good example of reading to all children in the school, especially boys.
Vicki Herzog
She comes to the Bloomfield Public Library to read to toddlers and they just love her. She is always willing to listen to them tell their stories and even allows them to call her Grandma Vicki. She is inspiring the kids read and bring Mom and Dad into the library as well.
Elaine Batenhorst
Her spirited leadership of the Kearney Literacy Council has enabled a spectacular array of community outreach programs that heightened an awareness of the group, enhanced literacy in the Buffalo County area, specifically put books in the hands of hundreds of children through the Back Pack program, and brought early literacy skill instruction to teen aged parents at the high school. She spearheaded the first ever Scrabble Tournament fundraiser that resulted in exciting competition involving 10 teams from throughout the community. Elaine had the vision to see that the Literacy Council's mission could be broadened and that community collaboration could benefit all. Through her efforts, the group now presents a tub of books at every Habitat for Humanity home dedication, continues their longtime connection with the Goodfellows Christmas program and is involving our members with ELL/International students in Conversation Tables at the University of NE Kearney. You can see how focused this Literacy Lady is on making sure that all ages in our area have learning opportunities!
Jodi Chapek
Jodi teaches in an approximately 90% Hispanic/10% Caucasian kindergarten classroom and has begun a program that involves having high school students from Spanish classes visit her classroom and read beginning bi-lingual books aloud with a kindergarten "buddy." The high school students learn to read with more fluency in their foreign language class, and the kindergartners love having a high school athlete or band member, etc., read to them.

Julie Agard
Julie has done much to deserve receiving the Reading Spotlight Award including:
- helping establish the Storytelling Festival in Kearney, NE in conjunction with the Museum of Nebraska Art.
- serving many terms on the Board of Education for Kearney Public Schools encouraging author visits, literacy events, and effective teaching.
- organizing the authors and speakers for the Nebraska State Reading Conference in Kearney every February.
- teaching primary literacy classes for UNK and instrumental in setting up primary reading field experiences for 35-45 students each semester.
- coordinating a project whereby each UNK student in the Primary block creates a picture book to be published and shared with children.
- directing the Exemplary Reading Program Award in Nebraska under the auspices of the International Reading Association.
- sponsoring for the University's Elementary Education Majors Club and organizing two huge annual Book Fairs on campus.
- serving on the Nebraska State Reading Board for more than three decades.

Phyllis Beckler
Phyllis spends four days each week reading one on one with first grade students at Seward Elementary School. Phyllis also mentors a middle school student through the Teammates Program. A very special lady!
Carolyn Cheney (and Sassy, her Boston Terrier)
Carolyn and her dog (Sassy) go regularly to Grant Elementary in Norfolk where children read to them as part of the Paws-Up R.E.A.D. Registered Therapy Dog program. Children are very comfortable reading to Sassy because he (and Carolyn) give nothing but positive affirmation each time. They don't correct their reading - they just listen (and sometimes Sassy falls asleep.) Carolyn also helped organize a couple other therapy dogs to come with her and Sassy to Lincoln Elementary this spring to take part in their "Rest Your Dogs" reading celebration. She also organized Paws-Up R.E.A.D. therapy dogs in the annual Children's Day Festival held at the Sunset Plaza Mall in February and sponsored by Read Aloud Norfolk. The theme of the Children's Day Festival each year is "For the Love of Reading" and the children and parents really LOVED Sassy and Carolyn.
Sandra Maybon and Carol Robertson
Mrs. Maybon and Mrs. Robertson were the co-chairwomen of the annual Reading Adventure Banquet in Madison, Nebraska. They organized and hosted an evening to encourage family participation in reading. They served over 400 people delicious homemade desserts at tables decorated around each class's favorite book. Children helped their teachers design the placemats, nut cups, and centerpieces. The children explained to the adults at their tables why they chose the book. Ticket sales profits were divided among the participating classes and libraries. Most bought more books for their classroom libraries. Each child went home with a new book donated through the Bank of Madison. Mrs. Maybon and Mrs. Robertson are making plans for an even bigger and better event in March of 2009.
UNL Athletes
Patrick Burke, Amanda Gates, T.J. O'Leary, Todd Petersen, Matt Senske, Tracy Stalls and Jenna Stroud read aloud to children at schools and libraries in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Topher Vorhies
Topher is a former student at Sheridan School who took time out from his busy schedule to visit his former school and read to current students.
Sen. Tony Fulton
Nebraska state senator, Tony Fulton helped Read Aloud Nebraska campaign for votes during the 2007 First Book contest to receive 50,000 free books. Although Nebraska didn't win, we came in a close second thanks in part to Senator Fulton's efforts.
Ted Mandell
Author, Ted Mandell donated over 1,000 copies of his book I Play For Nebraska to Read Aloud Nebraska to be given away to children, schools and libraries.

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